Like many managers at private clubs in gated communities, Dan Klunk, Membership Director of The Crosby Club in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., can see a lot of his members’ homes just by looking out his office window.
But judging by how long it was taking for announcements about club events, or billing statements, to get delivered to members’ mailboxes, you’d think some of them were living on ranches in the Santa Fe province of Argentina.
“The mail system here is not exactly the fastest,” Klunk says. “We have to send everything out [into the USPS system], and it can take a week for some of it to come back.”
Slow deliveries and poor timeliness of information were only part of the frustration Klunk was having while trying to communicate with the existing members (262 golf, 90 sports) of The Crosby Club, named for legendary singer/actor Bing Crosby, who owned one of the original properties on the site.
“There were also substantial costs for postage and printing,” says Klunk, who came to Crosby, a non-equity club now managed by Troon Golf, at the end of 2004. “And all the time involved in preparing [member communications] was time I couldn’t spend on another important part of my job—developing new memberships.”
|The same charm that Bing Crosby helped to create for The Crosby Club and its surrounding community (above left) is now reflected throughout the club’s “theater-style” Web site.|
The club had a rudimentary Web site to provide basic information, but no one on the staff had the time or expertise to keep it properly updated, let alone expand it to meet Crosby’s growing communications needs.
“We were trying to represent ourselves as a high-end facility, but our marketing clearly wasn’t comparable with that,”?Klunk says.
Going Their Way
At an industry meeting this past March, Klunk saw an online demonstration by MembersFirst, a Wayland, Mass.-based company that specializes in developing and supporting Web services for clubs. “It was clear that [MembersFirst] could not only help us develop a top-notch Web site that would properly match with everything else we do,” Klunk says, “but that they could also provide the operating support we needed.”
Klunk, General Manager Ken Halligan and others from The Crosby Club and Troon Golf worked with a MembersFirst team headed by Account Executive Dawn Proc and Project Manager Dan Stepchew to design a new, customized Web site. The overall goal was to reflect the style and charm associated with Bing Crosby and the property’s beautiful surroundings, while at the same time bringing important new functionalities and efficiencies to club operations.
“A key objective was ease of use for members at the front end, and also for the staff,” Proc reports. The Crosby name and image also offered the opportunity for a unique approach to design. “All the pages were made to suggest a classic ‘movie theatre’ theme,” Stepchew reports.
|Bing Crosby’s signature style is reflected in twice-monthly e-bulletins that smoothly summarize club events. “After they go out, we always see the most [Web site] hits,” says Membership Director Dan Klunk.|
An Overnight Sensation
The club’s new site (www.thecrosbyclub.com) went live this past August, and members immediately responded to the upgrade. “The word spread quickly that you now have to be dialed into our site and get our e-newsletters to know all the good stuff that’s going on,” Klunk says.
There was a lot of buzz generated among The Crosby Club’s management, too, when they saw statistics like these:
- E-mail “read rates” increased 65 percent from the August launch through the end of the year.
- “Click-throughs” to the site by members increased 70 percent after receiving e-mails notifying them of new information.
- A total of more than 600 paid online registrations were received for 12 events during the fall, representing over $45,000 in non-dues revenue.
And all of this was accomplished while freeing up Klunk and other staff members to focus on providing service for existing members, and making sales to new ones.
“I give [MembersFirst] regular input on what we want the site to say and how we want it to work, and they pretty much take care of the rest,” Klunk says of his managed-service arrangement with the vendor. “But I can also do self-administration daily from here. My background is actually in Web design, so I appreciate the dynamic and user-friendly tools they’ve provided for that purpose. But one of the best things about this arrangement is that we don’t have to rely on any one person to ‘do the Web,’ and no one here has to know anything about [Web design or management] software programs.
“I’m even giving prospective members temporary access to the site now; I can track exactly when they go to it and what they look at,” he adds. “It’s great for seeing their degree of interest before I follow up.
“Overall,” Klunk says, “our Web site has gone from being my biggest headache to something that’s actually delivering results.” C&RB